Who Can I Claim As a Dependent?

Family Who Can I Claim As a Dependent?

The article below is accurate for your 2018 taxes, the one that you file this year by the April 2019 deadline. 

Under tax reform, you can no longer claim the dependent exemption, which was $4,050 for tax year 2017, but you still need to know who qualifies as your dependent for other tax benefits like the Child Tax Credit up to $2,000 or the new $500 tax credit for dependents who aren’t your children.

The question “Who can I claim as my dependent?” has remained a confusing topic for many taxpayers and an area where tax deductions are often missed or misstated on tax returns.

Did you know you may be able to claim your couch potato friend as a dependent? Did you realize that support of your struggling aunt who didn’t live with you may qualify you for the dependency deduction? Don’t feel bad, you would be surprised how many people scratch their heads about dependency tax laws.

The bottom line is a dependent must be your “qualifying child” or “qualifying relative” and meet specific tests in order for you to claim them. The 5 tests that will qualify a child as a dependent are:

  • Relationship: Must be your child, adopted child, foster-child, brother or sister, or a descendant of one of these (grand or nephew).
  • Residence: Must have the same residence for more than half the year.
  • Age: Must be under age 19 or under 24 and a full-time student for at least 5 months. They can be any age if they are totally and permanently disabled.
  • Support: Must not have provided more than half of their own support during the year.
  • Joint Support: The child cannot file a joint return for the year.

The 4 tests that will qualify a relative as a dependent are:

  • Qualifying Child: They are not the “qualifying child” of another taxpayer or your “qualifying child.”
  • Gross Income: The dependent being claimed earns less than $4,150 in 2018.
  • Total Support: You provide more than half of the total support for the year.
  • Member of Household or Relationship: The person (a friend, girlfriend, non-blood relative) must live with you all year as a member of your household or be related to you.

Many taxpayers are surprised to find they may be able to claim a boyfriend, girlfriend, domestic partner, or friend as a qualifying relative if:

  • They are a member of your household the entire year.
  • The relationship between you and the dependent does not violate the law, for example, you can not still be married to someone else. (Also, check your individual state law, as some states do not allow you to claim a boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent even if your relationship doesn’t violate the law).
  • You meet all the other criteria for “qualifying relatives” (gross income and support).

Here are some common questions from our users we have answered for you here:

Question: My 26-year-old is living with me. He works and has made more than $4,150. Can I claim him as a dependent?

Answer: No, because your child would not meet the age test, which says your “qualifying child” must be under age 19 or 24 if a full-time student for a least 5 months out of the year.  To be considered a “qualifying relative”,  his income must be less than $4,150 in 2018.

Question: I start work in September of this year and had my baby in March. Can I claim my baby as a dependent on my taxes?

Answer: Yes, even if you have a baby on December 31, you can claim them as a dependent on your taxes.

Question: My boyfriend fully supports me. We live with his mother, but my boyfriend pays our full support including rent. His mother wants to claim us as dependents. Who can claim the deduction?

Answer: As long as your boyfriend is not married (be sure to check your individual state law regarding claiming a boyfriend or girlfriend some states don’t comply with the federal law), supplies over half of your support, you lived with him the entire year, and you did not earn more than $4,150, you would qualify as his dependent. His mother could not claim you since she did not provide more than half of the support.

Question: My spouse has not worked all year except for a month, can I claim him as a dependent?

Answer: You cannot claim a spouse as a dependent. However, if you file married filing jointly, you may have more tax benefits.

Now that you are armed with more knowledge about dependent tax laws, you may find that your friend crashing on your couch may help you get a larger tax refund.

Don’t worry about remembering these rules come tax time. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your answers. If you still have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered. The TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent can even review, sign, and file your tax return.

Comments (993) Leave your comment

  1. hello, I am wondering if I can claim my parents as dependents for 2018 since I am technically my father’s caregiver (I make a small amount of income from it, but it all goes straight to my parents) and my parents do not make an income. They do not live with me, but I still provide for them.

    1. Hi Chelsea,

      Many families are caring for parents now. Your parents might be considered a “Qualifying Relative”.

      If so then, they could make you eligible for the “Other Dependent Credit”.

      The requirements for claiming a Dependent and get the new “Other Dependent Credit” are:
      1. You provide more than half of the total support for the year. Support from you includes food, housing, medical expenses, clothing and other essentials.
      2. The person you are claiming does not have income that exceeds $4,150 for 2018; that amount does not include any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits they are receiving.
      3. To claim a parent or anyone as a dependent, they must not be eligible or claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return.
      4. The qualifying dependent must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien.

      Thank you

  2. I have a 22 year old son that was a full time student at a university until he completed his degree in May. He moved back home with me and will start a job in August, He will continue to live with me and I will continue to support him so he can pay off his student loans with the money he will me making. Will I be able to claim him as a dependent on my 2019 taxes?

    1. Hello Rebecca,
      Congratulations to the graduate!
      Your son could be considered your qualifying child. A qualifying child includes your children or siblings (including step, half or foster) or a descendant of any of them; must be younger than age 19 at the end of the year or younger than 24 and a full-time student.

      To qualify as your dependent on your tax return there are a few additional requirements:

      1. Qualifying Child: They are not the “qualifying child” of another taxpayer (such as a spouse)
      2. Gross Income: The dependent being claimed earns less than $4,150 (2018 Limits; 2019 amounts have not been released by IRS yet)
      3. Total Support: You provide more than half of the total support for the year.
      4. Household: Dependents must have the same principal residence as the taxpayer for more than ½ of the year. This residency requirement excludes temporary absences such as for illness, school, vacation, or military service where the child has every intention of returning.

      Here is more information: https://ttlc.intuit.com/community/college-education/discussion/daughter-in-college-in-2018-worked-and-earned-4900-parents-paid-over-half-her-living-and-school/00/489677#M13051

      Thank you

      Taking into

  3. My sister whom I live with forgot to claim me on her 2018 taxes, now she owes over two thousand dollars. I am 63 and only received SSI. Can she somehow redo her taxes, it is now June 27, 2019.

    1. Hi Sandra,

      Yes. If the Tax Return has already been filed and accepted by the IRS then she can file an Amendment. On the Amended Tax return she would include you as a Dependent.

      For the 2018 Tax year the Dependency exemption has been removed but, she may be able to claim the new “Other Dependent” credit.

      Processing time for Amended tax returns are longer and they must be mailed. Amended tax returns are not eligible for Electronic Filing.

      Thank you.

  4. Hi,
    I got home from school and found out my father did not file my taxes for 2018 and all years previous that I have been working because I don’t owe any money. But I would still like to get my tax return back. I know I made over $4,150 in the year of 2018 and am a full time student but he claimed he as a dependent and didn’t put any income down for me. Is it possible I can still file late or as an independent. (Asking for me and my siblings because my father does this for all of us).

    1. Hi Rachael,

      Yes, you will want to file a return even if you’re not required to do so in order to get any refund due to you.
      If you had any taxes withheld from your income, such as withholding on wages or retirement plan distributions, you overpaid your taxes or even if your income falls below the filing thresholds. If you don’t have a tax liability then you’re entitled to a refund of the money that was withheld. The IRS will keep it unless you file a tax return.

      Time is running out to file for a refund if you are eligible on the 2015 tax year. April 15, 2019, was the last day to file your original 2015 tax return to claim a refund. If you received an extension for the 2015 return then your deadline is October 15, 2019.
      When filing your tax return indicate on the tax return that you ARE a dependent of another; since your Father already filed and claimed you as a Dependent. Make sure you select the option for “I can be claimed on someone else’s return”, on the return.

      To file the previous year’s taxes you can buy the download for prior years. Buy the download here https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/past-years-products/
      Don’t worry about knowing the form formats or tax rules for each year. TurboTax will ask you simple questions about you and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based upon your answers.

      Thanks

  5. My 16 yr old daughter had her 15 yr old friend move in with us at the start of the year. This person is not claimed as a dependent by anyone else. Can I I claim this person as a dependent ?

    1. Hi David,

      For tax consideration the IRS has two types of dependents: a qualifying child or qualifying relative.

      A qualifying child includes your children or siblings (including step, half or foster) or a descendant of any of them; must be younger than age 19 at the end of the year or younger than 24 and a full-time student.

      However, the friend could still be eligible for the “Other Dependent Credit”. Don’t worry about knowing all of these tax deductions, TurboTax http://turbotax.intuit.com/ will ask you simple questions, and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your answers.

      Thank you

  6. Our daughter is 25 year old, live with us, she is student, she worked and earned $16k, can we claim her as a dependent because he was student. We pay for everything.

    1. Hi Jorge,
      For tax consideration the IRS has two types of dependents: a qualifying child or qualifying relative. A qualifying child includes your children or siblings (including step, half or foster) or a descendant of any of them; must be younger than age 19 at the end of the year or younger than 24 and a full-time student.
      However, she could still be a dependent as a “Qualifying Relative”. She would make you eligible for the “Other Dependent Credit”.
      Thank you.

  7. My ex husband moved in with me due to his health reasons I fully support us both but he has medicaid cause of his health issues can I claim him as a dependent and would that interfere with his medicaid… he hasnt worked and isnt able and has a lot of medical prescriptions that he would never be able to afford.

  8. Can I claim my Granddaughter who lives with me more than 50% of the time. My son and the mother were never married and they have joint custody. My husband and I pay for all her needs, food, clothing, medical, school supplies and anything she may need other wise for after school activities. Her father does not claim her. Each year for the past 3 years I send a note stating joint custody and the mother does not have her full time. I just received a note from the IRS stating someone else is using this SSN#. Is there a form to file to clear up this matter as the mother continues to claim her 100% and we are really not on speaking terms and she will not listen, what is the answer. Please advise.

  9. Is it required to have an IP PIN for each adult dependent that I claim? I have 4 adult dependents and zero children. 1. My son, 30 years old and disabled. 2. My oldest son, 35 years old and not working for a year. 3. His girlfriend, 35 years old and disabled. 4. My brother, 57 years old and not working due to a bad fall he had last year, but he is not disabled.

    1. Hi Paula,
      The IP PIN is assigned to the person filing the tax return, not the dependents. The IRS IP PIN is a 6-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent the misuse of their Social Security number on fraudulent federal income tax returns.
      Thanks

      1. How do you get a pen? My daughter and grandson have lived with me for the last year, and went to do taxes and the dead beat dad had claimed the child. Why can’t he be made to pay back?

  10. Is social security considered gross income for my retired parents who live with me?

    Trying to determine if I can claim them as dependents.

    Help…

    1. Hi Leigh,
      Many families are caring for parents now. You may claim parents as a dependent if you provided at least half of their support during the year. Support from you includes food, housing, medical expenses, clothing and other essentials. The parent’s income may not exceed $4,150 for 2018; that amount does not include any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits he is receiving. To claim a parent or anyone as a dependent, they may not be eligible as a dependent on another person’s tax return.
      Hope this helps.

    2. Hi Leigh,
      Many families are caring for parents now. You may claim parents as a dependent if you provided at least half of their support during the year. Support from you includes food, housing, medical expenses, clothing and other essentials. The parent’s income may not exceed $4,150 for 2018; that amount does not include any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits they are receiving. To claim a parent or anyone as a dependent, they may not be eligible as a dependent on another person’s tax return.
      Hope this helps.

    3. My daughter is medically retired military and receives a disability check of 1780/mo. Does she have to file taxes? Can I claim her on my taxes as a dependent? she’s 23

    1. Hi Patricia,
      Many families are caring for parents now. She may claim you as a dependent if she provided at least half of their support during the year. Support includes food, housing, medical expenses, clothing and other essentials. Your income may not exceed $4,150 for 2018; that amount does not include any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits you are receiving. To claim a parent or anyone as a dependent, they may not be eligible as a dependent on another person’s tax return.
      Thanks

  11. I am on disability and my husband and I have decided to separate so now I’m on ACHCCCS at the age of 61.. ACHCCCS says I cannot file a joint tax in order to receive ACHCCCS. .Can my daughter now claim me as I live with her now

    1. Hi Michele,
      Your daughter may be considered a Qualifying relative.
      The 4 tests that will qualify a relative as a dependent are:
      1. Qualifying Child: They are not the “qualifying child” of another (such as a spouse)
      2. Gross Income: The dependent being claimed earns less than $4,150 in 2018.
      3. Total Support: You provide more than half of the total support for the year.
      4. Member of Household or Relationship: The person (a friend, girlfriend, non-blood relative) must live with you all year as a member of your household or be related to you.
      Thank you

  12. If my son was 24 @ the end of the year, attended college for 8 months, earned just over 6k for the year, however he lived with us the full year and we fully supported him, can he be claimed as a dependent? And can his tuition for the year be deducted?

    1. Hello Marie,
      This is a frequently asked question. If the dogs are service animals, such as a guide dog, you can deduct your expenses you incurred from buying, training, and taking care of him. This includes food and vet care (as it relates to your pet’s duties). Please keep in mind that your pet must be certified and trained as a service animal.
      IRS Publication 502 offers more information.
      Thank you

  13. I have know comment I have a question. Wanted to know xan I came my mother who live with and she receives her Sociam Security.

  14. My daughter was 18 years in 2018 she worked and went to full time but she worked a part time and earned more than 4,000 can I still claim her as a dependent even though she filed her own tax return for 2018?

    1. Hi Maria,
      If your daughter indicated on the tax return that she IS a dependent of another; then yes you can still claim her. She must select the option for “I can be claimed on someone else’s return”, on the return.

      Thanks

  15. Me and my daughter are disabled. I’m living with a friend I pay rent and buy whatever is needed. Can he clam us on his income tax’s and if so what Credit does he receive how much $$$ need to no ASAP and can I fill my own income tax become I pay him

  16. Hello I was seeing if my boyfriend could claim my kids that ain’t his cause I don’t work n either doreen their dad and the kids live with me and my boyfriend first over a year? Could he claim them or would we have to get married for him to be aloud

    1. Hi Kayla,
      There are a few Qualifying rules for claiming a Dependent. Please take a look at this information regarding Children and Other Qualifying relatives for taxes.

      The 4 tests that will qualify a relative as a dependent are:

      1. Qualifying Child: They are not the “qualifying child” of another taxpayer or your “qualifying child.”
      2. Gross Income: The dependent being claimed earns less than $4,150 in 2018.
      3. Total Support: You provide more than half of the total support for the year.
      4. Member of Household or Relationship: The person (a friend, girlfriend, non-blood relative) must live with you all year as a member of your household or be related to you.

      Here are requirements for the new Other Dependent Credit; such as; boyfriend, girlfriend, domestic partner, or friend as a qualifying relative if:

      1. They are a member of your household the entire year.
      2. The relationship between you and the dependent does not violate the law, for example, you can not still be married to someone else. (Also, check your individual state law, as some states do not allow you to claim a boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent even if your relationship doesn’t violate the law).
      3. You meet all the other criteria for “qualifying relatives” (gross income and support).

      Hope this helps.

  17. One thing does not make sense. I added my retired mother as a dependent… When the app notified me that she is eligible for being my dependent, the “tax owed” amount went UP $700… Usually, doesn’t it work that if you add a dependent your taxes owed decrease… not increase???? makes zero sense

  18. I am taking care of my 57 years old daughter who can’t work but get disiabilty. I am 77 and she lives with me. When I showed her as a dependent, I was given the EIC for both Federl and state. Is this possible. I work part time and gets SS and a pension.

  19. My room mate pays less than a quarter of the Bills and all the Bills are in my name. He has had a job all year as a drive thru attendant at sonic. Can I claim him on my returns, and will he be able to still file taxes seperatly?.

    1. Hi my bf totally supports me his house was paid off he sold it bought another and we have been living on some life insurance his dad left him. He only got taxes taken out of one dividend payment. He hasnt filed in several years because he hasn’t worked. He got the dividend payments in 2016. Not sure if he can claim me were in Nevada. I meet the 4 guidelines for him to do so. I’m worried to go file because he will probably owe so trying to find the best way..is our situation too complicated for turbo tax?

  20. Hi, we migrated to the USA in June 2018 through the green card and I started working in July 2018. Am I qualified to claim for my dependents?

    1. Yes! The first year you should hire a good agent to do your taxes. If you are comfortable with English, then buy Turbo Tax and do your own taxes.

  21. I am disabled & have lived with my boyfriend for 8 years,I have not worked in 8 years he pays for all my doctor’s & medicine &food&clothes he also takes me to all my appointments having to take time off from his job, can he claim me

    1. Hello Pamela,
      You may qualify as an “Other Dependent” under the new Tax law changes. Here are the requirements for qualifying for the new $500 credit.
      1. Be a member of your household the entire year.
      2. The relationship between person filing and the dependent does not violate the law; for example, you cannot still be married to someone else. (Also, check your individual state law, as some states do not allow you to claim a boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent even if your relationship doesn’t violate the law).
      3. You meet all the other criteria for “qualifying relatives” (gross income and support).
      Hope this helps.

  22. Hello,
    Please, Can you help me please? I am hanicapped and on SSID. I am 61 yrs. old. I was wondering? Is there any new taxes laws for SSID for 2019?
    Thank you,
    Terri Kimball

  23. This question has already been answered previously. But, I need the answer to a specific situation. Can my partner (we’re unmarried) claim me as a dependent-he provided more than half of my support for 2018. The specific I need answered is,my “gross wages “ for 2018 were $4779,however,my “taxable wages “ were $4124.
    Thank you

  24. Can I claim my 17 year old brother that stays with me and take care of him I am only 19 years old will I have to show any proof?

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